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I’ve been meaning to blog about this topic for a while now but haven’t because it’s difficult for me. The day my baby had surgery has terrifying to me as a mother.
On February 20, 2012, my daughter very suddenly developed a large red lump on the side of her neck along her jaw line. We were eating strawberry ice cream and I thought maybe food allergy. It happened very quickly, maybe an hour or so. We rushed her to the nearest ER only to be told it was a cold and swollen lymph nodes. She developed a high fever as well. They sent us home with instructions to give her motrin and fluids. I’m still a little upset that they didn’t run any other tests on her at this point.
She didn’t get any better as the days progressed. We had several appointments with her pediatrician, who ran all sorts of tests and had no idea what was wrong. He knew there was some sort of infection going on but antibiotics did nothing for it. Her lump kept getting bigger and fever kept creeping higher. After a 5 days of this, I took her back in the ER (at a different hospital).
I remember clearly sitting in a tiny ER room with her alone and having the doctor tell me her blood cell count was really off and he suspected lymphoma but needed to do more tests.
I didn’t know what to do. All night, I sat up praying that she would be alright. That I would be happy as long as she was ok. At one point, her fever got to 105.
In the morning, she was seen by an ENT who determined that she needed immediate surgery to drain the infection. He also assured me that it was definitely not lymphoma but he didn’t know exactly what it was either.
It broke my heart when I had to hand her to the nurses as they rolled her bed down the hall to the operating room as she was crying and reaching for me.
She was only in surgery for about an hour but it seemed like much longer than that. They were able to determine that she had some weird version of staph infection. After a few days of her fever staying consistently high, I was very unimpressed with the care from the pediatrician at the hospital (not hers). I spoke with her pediatrician on the phone and her surgeon and the both agreed she needed to be seen at a Children’s Hospital. The staff pediatrician at the hospital refused to sign off on it. At this point, I had her discharged.
I took her home on February 28, 2012. And the next morning, she in at her pediatrician’s office. From there, her care got so much better. He immediately arranged for her to be seen the following day at the Children’s Hospital. I went home and packed our bags. I knew it was going to be another lengthy hospital stay. It was a two hour drive from where we were living at the time. Usually, I HATE driving in Pittsburgh, I avoid it at all costs. But, on March 1, 2012, I did it without panic. It’s hard to be that concerned about traffic when your child is sick. She was admitted to the Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital immediately after being seen by a team of doctors.
I could not have been any more impressed by the level of care she received by the staff. She had a type of antibiotic resistant staph infection but it wasn’t MRSA. She was given basically an antibiotic cocktail that eventually worked on her tiny body. Her mood improved, she began feeling better, I was so happy.
Finally, a week later, she was discharged. A month after that, there were no signs that she was ever ill aside from the healing scar on her neck.
To this day, years later, we have no idea what caused the staph infection. The way it happened, did not make any medial sense. I am still amazed at the whole situation.
Now, she is a happy, healthy 5 year old.
I am so thankful to the dedicated team at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, her ENT surgeon and her pediatrician for fighting for health. I hope none of you ever have to face your child being sick but if you do, please know that it is ok to disagree with doctors and stand up for your child. I don’t know if she would have gotten better under the care of the pediatrician at the one hospital. I am just grateful that she had other doctors who were fighting for her care as well as me.